New school building process progressing

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor
The Groveport Madison Board of Education moved the district’s Master Facility Plan for new buildings forward by approving the Notice of Conditional Approval and sending it on to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.

The board’s vote was 3-2 with board members John Kershner and Kathleen Walsh opposing it.

The plan calls for replacing the district’s existing six elementaries and three middle schools with:

•Three new elementary schools for grades K-4 with a capacity of 866 students each;

•Three new middle schools for grades 5-8 with a capacity for 706 students each; and

•Additions to the high school that include space for expanding the student dining area, storage areas, and career tech at the rear portion near Cruiser Stadium and a two story classroom addition at the southeast corner of the building.

The project has an estimated total Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) co-funded cost of $273.1 million. It could be done in two phases with the high school addition and middle schools being built first at a cost of $134.8 million. Then the new elementary schools could be constructed in a later phase at an estimated total OFCC co-funded cost of $107.1 million.

SHP Architects representative Josh Predovich said the district is in line to receive Ohio Facilities Construction Commission funding for 53 percent of the cost of the project with local funding providing 47 percent. He said there could also be locally funded initiatives, such as for things like a middle school auditorium, that would have to be funded 100 percent locally. There will also be abatement and demolition costs. For the new middle schools and high school additions the cost would be funded with $71.4 million in state funds and $77.2 million in local funds. The local funds include $13.9 million in locally funded initiatives. A 37 year bond issue for the new middle schools and high school additions could cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $84 annually in property taxes. For a $166,200 home, which is the median home value in the district, it would be an additional $139.61 annually in property taxes.

According to Predovich:

•Two new middle schools would be built in the northern part of the district – one at the current Middle School North site and the other on land the district owns on Noe-Bixby Road. One middle school would be built in the southern portion of the district at the Middle School South site.

•There would be two new elementaries built in the north – one at the current Dunloe Elementary site and the other at the current Sedalia Elementary site. An alternative new elementary site could be on land the district owns in Independence Village, but there are concerns that this site may be too small. An elementary school would be built in the southern part of the district at the existing Glendening Elementary site, but a second option would be to build this new school at the current Groveport Elementary site where the baseball fields now stand.

Groveport Madison officials have stated overcrowding is a central issue facing the district, but other factors considered in the facilities planning process included the age, condition, efficiency, adaptability, and cost to maintain the existing elementary and middle schools.

Kershner opposed the Master Facility Plan previously stating, the district must make sure it errs toward enough space and “not cut it tight” as well as concerns he has about what future student transportation costs would be under this plan.

Walsh questioned several aspects of the plan, including what would happen to the existing properties once the existing schools are demolished and that she believes larger school buildings do not benefit students and that smaller, more community based schools are more efficient. Other questions she had included what the future student transportation costs would be and what the costs would be if more land is needed.

Groveport Madison Superintendent Jamie Grube said larger schools are more efficient than smaller schools. Speaking at the May 20 Groveport City Council meeting, Grube said larger buildings are more efficient because the district can offer all its programs in such a facility rather than having them scattered in various buildings. He said, though the buildings are large, they can be made to feel and operate like a small school.

Visit gocruisers.org for more information on the Master Facility Plan process.

Next steps
The district could consider placing a bond issue for new buildings on the November 2024 ballot or May 2025 ballot. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission considers schools for the next round of state funding in July.

If the board wants to place a bond issue on the November 2024 ballot, the board must approve a project agreement by June. Then, to place a bond issue on the November ballot, the board must file with the county auditor in July and with the Franklin County Board of Elections in August. If the board wishes to wait to place a bond issue on the May 2025 ballot, then the ballot filings would be made in January and February of 2025.

Speaking at Groveport City Council’s May 20 meeting, Predovich said, if the bond issue passes, it would take a year for design work and then two years to construct the buildings, so the new schools could open in the fall of 2027.

Enrollment and capacity
Enrollment in Groveport Madison is expected to increase by 626 students in the next 10 years, which is about 9 percent. This increase includes a projected 72 more students in grades PK-5; 153 in grades 6-8; and 401 in grades 9-12 (including 139 in career tech).

Predovich noted that the district must also add in the number of students currently housed in modular classrooms when considering the size of new buildings.

According to SHP and information from a school capacity study by Cropper GIS Consulting, the current enrollment and capacity configurations for the district’s schools are (modular classrooms where indicated):

•Asbury Elementary (includes four modulars): enrollment, 506; capacity, 481.

•Dunloe Elementary (includes four modulars): enrollment, 499; capacity, 540.

•Glendening Elementary: enrollment, 492; capacity, 480.

•Groveport Elementary (includes four modulars): enrollment, 475; capacity, 504.

•Madison Elementary: enrollment 362; capacity, 359;

•Sedalia Elementary (includes 12 modulars): enrollment, 606; capacity, 656.

•Middle School Central: enrollment, 477; capacity, 463;

•Middle School North: enrollment, 479; capacity, 583.

•Middle School South: enrollment, 463; capacity 485.

•High School: enrollment, 2,009; capacity, 1,440.

Master Facility Plan background
District officials considered the following options:

•Renovations or additions on existing elementary and middle schools plus an addition to the high school.

•Constructing all new elementaries and middle schools plus an addition to the high school.

•Combination of new construction and renovations and additions to the existing elementary and middle schools plus an addition to the high school.

Predovich said, according to the OFCC, if renovation costs exceed two-thirds the cost of replacing a building, the state recommends replacing the building. The district would have to meet state requirements to get a waiver to make renovations for buildings above this limit.

According to 2023 OFCC figures, all of the district’s elementaries and middle schools exceed this two-thirds limit with Asbury at 89 percent; Dunloe at 91 percent; Glendening at 83 percent; Groveport at 99 percent; Madison at 88 percent; Sedalia at 67 percent; Middle School North at 78 percent; Middle School South at 77 percent; and Middle School Central at 79 percent.

Existing school buildings
These are the current Groveport Madison school district school buildings:

•Asbury Elementary – Built in 1963 with additions in 1968 and 1969.

•Dunloe Elementary – Built in 1967 with additions in 1968 and 1969.

•Glendening Elementary – Built in 1968 with addition in 1974.

•Groveport Elementary – Built in 1923 with an addition in the 1930s. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

•Madison Elementary – Built in 1967 with additions in 1968 and 1969.

•Sedalia Elementary – Built in 1969 with addition in 1974.

•Middle School North – Built in 1975.

•Middle School South – Built in 1975.

•Middle School Central – Built in stages as a high school between 1952-56. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

•High School, built in 2018.

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